Life in the 21st century may be full of labour-saving devices, but the demands on our time seem ever increasing with most of us trying to cram 36 hours of living into the 24 available!  It’s no wonder that some relationships suffer from so much stress that they end up in separation.

Many of our clients tell us that their lives are so pressured that something had to give and sadly this is often the relationship with their partner.  So on a practical level here are our top tips to help take some of the pressure off and give your relationship the opportunity to thrive rather than explode.

1: Make ‘us’ time

Even if it’s only once a month have a child-free, work-free ‘date’ where you can talk about each other, your hopes, dreams and plans for the future – or just do something silly that you’ll both enjoy.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a romantic candlelight dinner at home, a visit to your favourite restaurant or a walk in the countryside.  What matters is that you have time to be a couple, not an executive, a parent, a daughter or any of the other roles life imposes.

2: Create routines

With the kids back at school getting everyone out of the house in the morning can be incredibly stressful with kids to get out of bed, homework to remember, sports kit for school (or to take to the office to squeeze in a gym session at lunchtime), breakfast to eat and everyone is running about like crazy.  The secret is a plan.

Sit down with your family and create a daily checklist for everyone – who has to take what on which day?  Put everyone’s checklist where it can be easily seen – and make them responsible for checking their own lists.  So if someone shouts ‘where is my sports kit?’, they should have checked it the night before.

Encourage everyone (including yourself) to check tomorrow’s list before they go to bed to reduce the panic.

If you have regular routines for washing clothes, ironing, shopping, dinner time, etc. everyone will get used to the schedule and this will reduce demands for things when you simply don’t have the time.  Make sure that these tasks are shared too so everyone knows what they’re responsible for.

3: Get your menu planned ahead

Now and again it’s fun to raid the fridge for a meal, but when everyone is hungry and you are trying to be creative with dinner, it can be tough.

Before you go food shopping plan the weeks menus and check your cupboards, fridge and freezer for ingredients.  Buy what’s needed and have a menu plan for breakfast and dinner – and any packed lunches that are needed.

Being able to do a bit of forward planning will take the strain off.  You could even assign prep tasks to family members so the cooking doesn’t all fall on one person.

4: Share responsibilities

While Theresa May and her husband have ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ jobs, when you have a family, everyone needs to help out – especially when both parents are working.

To avoid the conversation that starts with ‘You never do any cooking/ironing/cleaning/ …’ agree family responsibilities.

While small children won’t be able to do much, get them used to small tasks from an early age and increase these as they get older.  One day your kids will fly the nest and being domesticated will be a real advantage!

Make a list of everything that needs doing and let people volunteer for the things they don’t mind doing.  If there’s something everyone hates, then maybe draw tasks out of a hat or bag so it’s fair.

This will reduce that urge to nag – and take the stress out of running a household.

5: Eat together

Have dinner together at least some days during the week, depending on the family schedules.  It’s an opportunity to catch up with everyone and find out how everyone’s days have gone.

It creates that family feeling and helps everyone to understand each other’s highs and lows.  Agree with days that everyone can achieve, but do be flexible when special events crop up.

Finally, remember that if there is stress in a relationship it doesn’t necessarily mean the end.  Counselling can be an excellent way to get things out in the open and to help you get your relationship back on track.  We work closely with expert couples counsellors and are happy to provide you with their details – please call us on 01245 221699.